BETA

Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women

Archive for February, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

IS YOUR TRUE FOCUS ON RELIGION OR A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD ?

About eight years ago I receive a call from a businessman who was burned out spiritually, physically and emotionally. He had spent years in church, attending innumerable services, seminars, men’s conferences, Bible studies, etc., etc. He’d done it all, all the while running his exceedingly demanding business, and raising two rambunctious boys. After years of conscientiously striving to live the Christian life by running at full throttle to fulfill his innumerable religious commitments, he found himself spiritually parched; burned out on keeping pace with the system that purportedly was suppose to renew him spiritually.

In the ensuing years, I got him to cut back on about 75% of his religious activities (boards, teaching, committees, religious meetings, etc.) and worked with him on developing as top priority, intimacy with Christ through un-rushed daily time with Jesus and his word. Not to mention his slowing down to re-connect with his wife and boys.

Today he is living at a measured pace; says “no” more than “yes” to stuff on the religious merry-go-round, and has developed a peaceful and loving relationship with his wife. He is also working at slowing down his boys – now middle and late teenagers – from mirroring his frantic pace of years past.

As I think of my friend Joe, I am reminded of A. W. Tozier’s poignant statement: “The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly and the peace of God scarcely at all.” 1

QUESTIONS :

  • If you are caught up in the swirl of religious activity that keeps you busy but spiritually dry, why ? What’s the point? What is the motivation? Peer pressure to conform? What is the primary driving force in your life? Seeking acceptance among your peers? Conforming to religious and societal mores? St. Paul stated, “ If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10b) Or is your primary motivation in life knowing and following Jesus? Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36). If you are not free in your spirit, what is it that binds you?
  • If you are entrenched in the web of a religious system that drains rather than feeds you , what practical steps do you need to consider in order to extricate yourself, so that you can begin concentrating on developing true intimacy and depth with Christ? Your decision may be that of choosing between bowing to man-made religion or fostering a relationship with God. (See Lk. 11:46; Jn. 5:44; 9:18-23; 12:42, 43; Act. 15:10; Gal. 6:13; Rev.:2:24)

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

1 “The Pursuit of God”– A. W. Tozier – Wing Spread Publishers, Camp Hill Penn 1995 pg 14

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

ENDURANCE AND ENCOURAGEMENT

A crusty old cowboy once stated, “Life is tough and then you die.” Yes, life is tough for all of us, but we, the followers of Christ receive encouragement amidst our endurance. Let me propose several attitudes and actions we can take to foster that encouragement:

  • Placing our trials in light of eternity:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 8:18; 15:4). (See Rom. 15:5)

  • Welcoming suffering as an agent God uses to produce character through perseverance :

“You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance…We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (Jms. 1:3; Rom. 5:3-5). (See Matt. 5:10-12)

  • Appropriating God’s resources amidst persecution and life’s hardships :

“…If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Rom. 8:34 – 37; Phil. 4:13). (See Eph. 6:10-18)

  • Choosing to be spurred on by the examples of people who have been willing to make the necessary sacrifices to run, and win the race:

“Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Heb. 12:1). (See Heb. 11:1-31)

  • Living in anticipation of inheriting God’s fulfilled promises :

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised…We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Heb. 10:36; 6:12). (See Rom. 4:18-24; Heb. 6:15)

“The Christian” Charles Spurgeon reminds us, “sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are the everlasting arms. He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant of grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. All through life, and at its close, we shall be upheld by the everlasting arms–arms that neither flag nor lose their strength, for the everlasting God does not faint or grow weary.”

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

NIKE HAS IT RIGHT : “JUST DO IT!”

Kingdom work, that is. Why? Because we are surrounded by lost, confused people with broken lives in desperate need of the Redeemer. These folks are our neighbors…as in the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Lk. 10:25-37) If we claim to have a modicum of Calvary love in us, we are compelled to get involved in their tragic, messy lives…whether we feel like it or not. In a word: “Just do it!”

Hey, 90% of Kingdom work is hard exertion. Oswald Chambers calls it drudgery. When Jesus stated that “ the harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few,” he was talking about a shortage of toilers. Field workers – you know, those folks who bend over all day long, picking cotton or strawberries. It’s back breaking, unnoticed, and thankless work. In America we look the other way as illegal’s cross the border to do the work most of us are unwilling to do. None of us choose to toil if we have the option. Yet Jesus commanded us to pray for toilers for his over ripe harvest. (Matt. 9:38) He was talking about us obediently stepping up to being his toilers; his drudgery workers.

Jesus was a toiler, as exemplified by washing a dozen fishermen’s filthy feet. Going to the cross was drudgery for him: “Abba, Father,” cried he, “…Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will”just did it because the Father expected it of him. Scripture admonishes us to learn from his example: “…Fix our eyes on Jesus…(who…endured the cross…”) so that we, his toilers “will not grow weary and lose heart “(Heb. 12:1,2). (Mk. 14:36). He

Clearly Paul understood the toil of Kingdom work: “I endure everything for the sake of the elect” [so] “that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus…” And what did he endure? “I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal.” In the same breath he admonished us to “ endure hardship with [him] like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2: 3, 10). (See 1 Cor. 4:12; 2 Cor. 11:23-28; 2 Tim 4:5)

The good news is that there is another dimension to endurance: Joy. The two are inextricably linked together:

Jesus endured the cross, as he joyfully looked into the future in anticipation of our salvation. (Heb. 12:1,2)

We rejoice in our suffering, aware that it produces in us perseverance (Literally: endurance), character, and hope. (Rom. 5:2-5) (See Jms. 1:2-4)

We rejoice in persecution because of our reward in heaven and because God counts us worthy to suffer disgrace for Christ. (Matt. 5:10-12; Act. 5:40, 41)

We rejoice in the privilege of pouring out our lives sacrificially for others. (Phil. 2:7)

QUESTION : Are you a dabbler at laboring for God? If so, why don’t you get off your duff and, “Just do it!” Kingdom work, that is. Do it for the Father’s glory and for the eternal redemption of lost souls. Calvary love compels us, does it not?

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO LIVE OUT THE CHRISTIAN LIFE: GOD’S WAY OR THE HARD WAY

I am involved with some eager young men who are attempting to follow hard after Christ…in their own strength. Gutting it out with clenched fists. These are highly motivated and disciplined young men who assume that with enough dedication and determination they can win over their sensual desires, their pride, their spiritual failings.

In truth, there is only one person who can live out the Christian life: Jesus Christ. And he desires to do it through us – if we will just let him. St. Paul clearly understood this profound truth:

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us…” (Gal. 2:20a; Rom. 8:37b – NLT). (See Jn. 15:4 – 9; Rom. 13:14; Cor. 4:10, 11; Phil. 4:13; Col. 1:17; I Thess. 5:10)

I suspect this a truth that only the Holy Spirit can teach self-directed, self-assured type A’s. In our arrogance, God may allow us to hit the wall to get our attention. Learning to allow Christ to live out his life through us is the difference between shimmying up a greased pole and gliding with the wind like an eagle.

The good news is that God has provided at least five other resources to empower us to live victoriously :

1. The eternal purposes of God that are working in us to conform us into Christ likeness: “… In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…” (Rom. 8:28, 29b – NLT). (See Phil. 2:12, 13)

2. The indwelling power of the Holy Spirit: “… Because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin…” (Rom. 8:2b – NLT). (See Jn. 6:65; 7:38, 39; Rom. 8:10, 11)

3. The liberating power of God’s word: Jesus: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:31b, 32, 36 – NKJV) (See Heb. 4:12, 13).

4. The intercession of Christ and the Holy Spirit for us: ”[Christ] is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us…The Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words…” (Rom. 8:34a; 8:26b – NLT). (See Jn. 17:20-24; Rom. 8:27; Heb. 4:15, 16; 1 Jn. 2:1)

5. The armor of God: Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). (See 2 Cor. 6:7; 10:3-5; Rom. 13:12; Eph. 6:11-17; 1Thess. 5:8)

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill